In a city with endless self-development opportunities, there might come a time when you ask yourself what you could do for others.
Los Angeles has all the virtues of a big city, but also the problems that come with size. From people living on the streets to those that are seeking to escape a dark past and reintegrate into society, from the growing number of stray animals to the concerning medical situation of the poor, the L.A. toll is vast. Luckily, some local dedicated NGOs are working on many of these issues. And because no good deed goes unpunished, these non-profits’ operations are getting bigger and need your help. Now you’re probably thinking that with such a diverse list on NGOs in L.A., it’s difficult to choose one to focus your attention on. Fret not, we compiled a list of deserving organizations with everything you need to know about their activity.
People Support Initiatives
The organization was founded on the basis of a small program, Jobs for a Future, meant to counterbalance the escalating gang membership and violence of the 1980s in Los Angeles. Since then, Homeboy Industries has contributed immensely to making L.A. County safer by offering support to formerly incarcerated and gang-involved men and women in the area. Their mission is to offer participants a new perspective to life. Anger management classes, tattoo removal sessions, parenting and career development programs aim to embed them with the power of reintegrating into society. They also offer technical assistance to replicate their organization model in other communities.
Enroll with Homeboy Industries – you can help someone too!
Project Angel Food
The volunteers that started Project Angel Food in 1989 wanted to enhance the survival chances of those suffering from HIV/AIDS, as their fragile state of health would at times make them unable to leave their homes and provide for themselves. Up to this day the organization’s mission is to prepare and deliver healthy and nutritious meals to the homes of those suffering from serious illnesses.
There’s always a need for volunteer work at Angel Food – it accounts for 80% of their activity, so there is a great chance your involvement will make a difference.
St. John’s Well Child and Family Center
Photo courtesy of St. John’s Well Child and Family Center
So many people in the U.S. with low incomes are unable to pay health insurance for themselves or their families. In an attempt to offer equal healthcare opportunities, St. John’s provides medical services to people of all ages in South Los Angeles. Patients can access the organization’s program through a network of Federally Qualified Health Centers and school-based clinics in the area.
They always welcome professional volunteers: check the internship and volunteering opportunities at St. John’s.
Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles
Spanning the breadth of Greater Los Angeles, LAFLA operates in 5 different offices. The mission of the NGO is to give everyone access to legal aid, especially the poor and low-income citizens. Their services cover direct representation, counsel, and advice, as well as legal and civil rights workshops and seminars.
Volunteer work at LAFLA is paramount, so if you want to enroll, they are always looking for law professionals with different levels of experience.
NGOs Helping the Homeless
The Midnight Mission
For more than a century, helping homeless people in Los Angeles get their lives back on track has been The Midnight’s main goal. The path to self-sufficiency and stability can be extremely frightening to those who have experienced the trauma and pain of living on the streets. The organization runs 12-step recovery programs that are meant to ease people back into daily life routine with proper counseling and workforce training.
Become a volunteer at The Midnight Mission and give someone a second chance at rewriting their story.
The People Concern
Although founded in 2016, it’s one of the largest social services agencies. What makes The People Concern special in Los Angeles is its effort investment in domestic violence cases, which often lead to putting people (especially women) out on the street. The agency offers both individual and group opportunities for those willing to volunteer in activities with both the homeless and victims of domestic violence.
By enrolling in The People Concern, you can commit to a good cause.
Downtown Women’s Center
The DWC is another organization dedicated to supporting the homeless in Greater Los Angeles, but it focuses exclusively on women. Since 1978 the center has achieved a great deal, from providing housing to opening the only health clinic exclusively for women in Skid Row. The mission? Every single woman in the Greater Los Angeles Area off the streets.
If you want to contribute time and energy to helping these women put their lives back together, check out the volunteering opportunities at DWC.
Food on Foot
Photo courtesy of Food on Foot
What’s the immediate good that you could do for a homeless person? Offer them a warm meal. For over 20 years, Food on Foot has provided warm meals and job opportunities to the homeless people of Los Angeles. Want to make a difference? You can volunteer and distribute food and clothing to approximately 150 homeless people on any Sunday in Hollywood. Volunteer opportunities are kid friendly too! Children ages six and up are welcome and must be accompanied by an adult.
If you’re looking to do good for our homeless neighbors, Food on Foot welcomes more volunteers.
Educational Child Support
Photo courtesy of 826LA
Exploring your creativity is no easy-access road, especially if you’re a child or a teenager whose artistic inclinations may mean not blending in. 826LA understands this and goes the extra mile in helping students in Los Angeles 6 to 18 years old with creative writing. They offer in-school and after-school tutoring, evening and weekend workshops, assistance for the English language learners and assistance with publications.
If you also believe a child’s voice is worth hearing, volunteering at 826LA is a good starting point.
School on Wheels
Photo courtesy of School on Wheels
Every organization that deals with homelessness points out that counseling and workforce training are extremely important steps in taking people off the streets. In the case of homeless children, education is a privilege, but Agnes Stevens’ School on Wheels makes it a right. It’s the only organization in Southern California dedicated exclusively to the academic needs of the homeless children. The heart of the non-profit are the volunteer tutors that come from different backgrounds, teach different subjects, and work one-on-one with children on the streets.
Become a tutor for those in need by joining School on Wheels.
Reading to Kids
Photo courtesy of Reading to Kids
Reading aloud proves extremely beneficial to children, by enhancing their attention span and helping them absorb new information. Reading to Kids gathers over 700 children from low-income families in elementary schools in Los Angeles once a month to hear hundreds of volunteers read to them. The organization also makes significant book donations to the families and schools after the reading sessions.
Enroll in Reading to Kids and spread the joy.
Photo courtesy of WriteGirl
According to the organization, most of the girls that are mentored here study in schools in Los Angeles where the student-to-counselor ratio is 810:1. Every year hundreds of girls benefit at WriteGirl from workshops, one-on-ones and panel discussions that improve and encourage their creative writing. As a consequence, since 2001 all of the young women trained here have entered college and some have even obtained partial scholarships.
Check the volunteering opportunities at WriteGirl for both men and women.
Animal Rescue Initiatives
Located in the heart of West Los Angeles, No-Kill L.A. runs an animal sanctuary that strives to save homeless animals and fights against animal abuse, hoping to transform L.A into a no-kill city. The organization also performs spay/neuter procedures, but most importantly it has an adoption center that can put cats and dogs in abuse-free, loving homes.
There are so many ways in which you can get involved, from rescuing animals off the streets to organizing an event. Check the NKLA involvement opportunities.
Photo courtesy of FixNation
Supporting Trap-Neuter-Return, the organization is focused exclusively on cats. Their 2 full-time veterinarians can sterilize 100 cats per day. FixNation offers training and free-of-charge equipment for humane trapping of strays. They also provide training on the care and management of feral cat colonies. Their mission is to reduce the number of homeless cats in Los Angeles but also to offer the friendly ones the opportunity of getting adopted.
Become a volunteer at FixNation, do it for the cats.
Dogs Without Borders
With so many canine friends on the streets, this organization is running a large rescue operation from Los Angeles as far as Mexico or Taiwan. After taking dogs off the streets or from shelters with improper conditions, DWB finds them loving homes. The owners get advice and support for the duration of their dogs’ lives to ensure that their pets can live a happy life.
If you feel this is a job for you, check DWB’s volunteering program.
Hope For Paws
Celebrating their 10th anniversary this summer, Hope for Paws is a rescue organization whose YouTube channel gained almost 3 million subscribers since its debut in 2006. By filming some of their most complicated rescue missions, they wanted to spotlight just how dangerous life on the streets of a big city like Los Angeles can be for all animals.
If you want to volunteer at Hope for Paws check the opportunities here.
Did we miss an NGO that should be on this list? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll consider adding it!